Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Seed Starting Coleus/Begonia Progress

It's amazing what a difference a few days can make in the appearance of a seedling. The begonias are progressing. Some are still tiny but visible. I wonder if the tiny ones will make it? Anything could happen so I will try not to be too excited. It would be nice if all grew at the same rate but I guess as people are different and have their own characteristics, so are seeds; no two alike due to their genetic make up.

Each one is a different size.

I was like a little kid when I saw how some had grow. I peak at them every day.

These are coleus the seeds I sowed. I am spoiled with pelleted seeds. I was horrified to see the size of seeds that aren't pelleted. I usually order pelleted seed  pelleted seeds but didn't think about this when I was ordering this time. Some are pelleted and some are not. I didn't have success with chocolate mint coleus last year. Only one seedling survived out of 10 sown. The dark color is beautiful and I am trying them again.
Coleus seeds sown next to geraniums.
Never sow seeds when you're tired. It should be interesting what happens. There were so many seeds that weren't pelleted and I just shook them into each cell. Not the way I would recommend you do it. At least the pelleted seeds can be seen, the others cannot, so how crowed they are should be interesting. It's a good thing coleus seedlings aren't as fragile and fussy. I might be horrified to see hundreds come up.

Let there be some order! One of my shop lights stopped working so I have 2 others and I have to find out what is working. This is no time for lights to break.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Seed Starting-Geranium Black Velvet Scarlet Hybrid

Seed/Supplier- Park Seed, 2 packs sown 22 seeds.
Year of seed-packaged for 2014.
Date started- January 26, 2014
Seed Started In- Commercial seed starting coir discs 16 pellet discs.
Sown - Cover seeds to their thickness 
Covered -humidity dome
Heat/No Heat-Placed on heat mat
Light On/Off- On

Modified instruction taken from seed pack. Start in late winter 6-8 weeks before last frost. Sow seeds and cover to their thickness. Water from the bottom and place in warm location about 70 degrees. Bottom heat aids germination. Keep moist and don't allow to dry out.There are additonal instructions regarding transplanting.

Geranium seeds. One extra seed per pack.
I don't use the self watering feature. I also don't use the germination plastic cover provided, but a saved humidity dome from another seed starting kit. I payed $4.00 for this kit during the Summer. Never pay full price if you can help it. Water added to pellets to expand and mixture spread and leveled in each cell.
Placed on heat mat. Mat ordered last year from Hydro Galaxy.

Saturday, January 25, 2014


It really feels like Winter. The air is crisp and windy; hats, gloves, layers of clothing. I love it! We haven't had this type of cold and snow in years. Last week a snow storm that closed schools; frigid single digit temperatures back, and snowing again today. Just finished shoveling the snow and now sitting by a warm fire.

I have an unusual cat. Most animals including my brother's dog, love to lay by the fire. Not my cat. This is rare. He loves the heat from the fire but he's more afraid of the noises that the fire make. His favorite place to lay is on my daughter's lap.

Joy has a bed. Instead he chooses to lay in a box. I brought flowers home in it and he loves it.
Bad news for my seedlings. I've never had many seedlings die but many of my pansies have. I know I didn't over water them. It may be a combination of to much of what should have been half strength miracle grow to water them; spraying over them at fungus gnats, and mosquito bites in the soil. Although all the seedlings received the same treatment, only the weaker smaller ones died. It's hard to have seedlings die after so much time spent waiting for them to sprout and babying them along. I still have some that may make it. So far I'm undecided if I'll start more. I started those in December. It's kind of late to me to start again. I still have other seeds to start and more winter sowing to do. The vinca that survived are healthy and growing. Those that took longer to sprout and make a second set of leaves did not. Being snow bound again seems like the perfect time to start some seeds but that's not what I want to do at this time. Maybe tomorrow. Coleus and geraniums need to be started.

Begonias still small, and I thought I would have full sized plants by spring!

This looks like a long process.
Vinca and Miracle Grow potting soil. Never again. When I transplant them into separate pots I will use a  different potting mix.
Pansies, actually starting to look like pansies. The weaker seedlings don't make it. I will have to stop trying to save them all when I should weed out the bad ones.

I hope they make it.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Indoor Gardening

Phalaenopsis (moth) orchids again. The pull of last weeks visit to the produce market got the better of me. Not only do I love plants but it was obviously that many others do also evidenced by the lack of plants from last week. I was disappointed that I couldn't get my dish garden but there will be more plants coming in I'm sure. Instead of cut flowers which will last maybe 10 days, I choose 3 orchids, a begonia and another primrose.  The blooms on the orchids should last for at least a month. After the plants are not in bloom I won't expect much if they die. I have enjoyed their blooms and a little bit of spring time in the winter.

What are my plans this time to keep the orchids alive after blooming? Since they like a lot of humidity I plan to put gravel inside the outer liner with a small amount of water, then put the pot back inside so it sits on the gravel. Misting is supposed to help also. The location of a plant can be my down fall. I like to display them where I can enjoy them. This is usually not the best place for them so the plants will be removed from the mantel to a small table near the light. If they appear to try to survive I will fertilize them once a month. My kitchen window will be a good location for them in the Spring. Right now the window is cold and this may be a problem for them.

Rieger Begonia

The begonias can now be seen better with the eye. There was 100% germination, good seed. Now hopefully they all survive to adulthood. The humidity lid is still on them. I did have a problem with white fungus on the soil but a mist of peroxide mixed with water and chamomile water made from tea bags immediately stopped it. I guess this would be a problem with the recommendation of keeping them in a humid environment. 

The vinca seedlings had a poor germination rate with approximately 17 seedlings out of 40 germinating; not good. They have their second set of leaves and I transplanted them today. I will have to transplant them again into seperate container when they get a little bigger. For now I put the ones with their second set of leaves into 2 pots. I gave them their first dose of a 1/2 strength fertilizer.

The remainder of the pansy seedlings were also transplanted today and the weaker looking seedlings disposed of. Disposing of weaker seedlings didn't bother me this time because I already have a lot of seedlings and I still have to start petunias, coleus, dichondra, becopa, 2 types of geraniums, stachy, herbs, and vegetables. This year I will need all of the shelves on the plant rack for seedlings.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Weekend/Transplanting Pansies

Sunday it rain most of the day, hard pouring rain that stopped for short periods of time. The upside, the temperature was in the 60's so no boots or heavy coats. It was a day to shop for my mother and I. Of course the best part is going to the produce market which has a separate building for flowers. I wanted some of everything but didn't buy any plants or flowers. I am forcing myself not to go back today to get something. Five foot tropical plants were only $12.00. Beautiful dish gardens crammed with unusual tropicals in beautiful ceramic container with Asian inspired paintings; primrose of all colors $1.50. Winter cactus were 3 for $5.00 and other smaller tropical plants but still large for $9.00.

There was a sea of orchids in all colors for $5.00's each. My mother was taking near the orchids with another customer. When we got back in the car she told me that the customer told her that the orchids were 3 for $5.00 earlier in the week, wow. I have had to admit to myself that for me orchids are like a tulip. I enjoy their beauty while in bloom and once the bloom is finished the plant is done, although some spring blooming bulbs are perennial. I have not been able to keep them alive to become a houseplant. There was a table of chrysanthemum's for $3.00 in all colors unlike winter mums. Beautiful wicker and ratan baskets of all sizes. There were so many flowers at reasonable prices.

Okay I will stop exciting myself. A busy day is ahead. I took a coffee break and while I drink it I will blog. I transplanted some pansies this morning and have to sterilize more soil first to finish. I used miracle grow organic potting soil. I sterilize it by baking it in the oven. I'm not sure this is really necessary but different people do different things. I won't be using the soil that I used last year from Home Depot for the seedlings. The texture was wonderful but I didn't like how my plants performed this summer with it. I have never made my own soil but I am geared toward doing this in the future because I still don't like the texture of Miracle Grows organic mix. It has a lot of cut up bark in the mix. Brought a bag of vermiculite before it disappeared from the shelves in the Fall. I will keep it to mix with   more components of what I would like to make my mix with. That will not be during seedling time.

I had more pansy seedlings than I thought and still want to start a variety with ruffled leaves but too many seedlings are time consuming. The end product is wonderful, but all the preparation and time it takes to pot up each seedling can be discouraging for me. I did dispose of some seedlings that were smaller than their counterparts and may not be as healthy. I cringe whenever I do this because I want to keep everything but have found from experience that it's okay to do this because when I kept seedlings that didn't look like the others they did not thrive and often died later. Haven't bought small bathroom cups that would have been perfect but I would have to transplant again later and I want to avoid this. Multiple seedlings were put  into each pot. Time will tell how they do with so many in the pot. I have smaller pots I saved to reuse this year but they need to be disinfected and washed. Of course this should have been done last year so everything was ready. Well, there is only so much time in a day.

I still have to start dinner which will be baked turkey parts with gravy, basmati rice, and fresh roasted brussel sprouts and possibly fresh pole beans. This will be my first time having them. My mother bought some at the produce market yesterday and showed them to me. They look like huge string beans and much longer and fuller.This will be my first time roasting brussel sprouts. Seems simple to roast them on a cookie sheet after seasoning with a small amount of some salt and some pepper and coating them with olive oil. I usually buy them frozen and boil them but all the health benefits leach out into the boiling water. 

Just planting bulbs in the window box! This box is outside my daughter's window. She'll enjoy the blooms in the spring.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Spring Inside, Freezing Rain Outside

Weather can be so deceptive. The news yesterday did forecast freezing rain and icy roads today but, when I left for work there was only light rain and I thought, no problem. Listening to the news on the radio while driving talked about many accidents and the icy conditions in new Jersey. I gave myself an early start but it didn't matter because, before my eyes what started off as just wet roads became ice within minutes of leaving home. It was frightening. 

Every time the car stopped for a red light or stop sign, lightly pressing the gas to proceed results in spinning wheels and for those who weren't careful, skidding and possible loss of control of their car. I arrived to work safely but late because speeds were hugely reduced. The next obstacle was getting out of the car and walking into the building. Opening the car door and looking down, all I saw was a street of clear ice as far as the eye could see. Well I couldn't sit in the car until afternoon. Didn't break a leg or have an accident, and I'm thankful. Guess what? It will rain tomorrow and temperatures are expected in the 60's. I won't even mind the rain. Well the smell of spring is inside with primrose and paperwhites. 

Vinca. I thought I had killed them putting them under the shop lights too soon after germinating. Some did die, but what is left look healthy. The second tray is slower. Many have germinated but have not stuck their heads out of the soil and stood up. I took the top off after they germinated and put them back on the heat mat. I think they may benefit from the heat to help them finish emerging from the coir. A close watch on them will hopefully avoid other disasters. One can never tell with seedlings. They have a mind of their own.

Paperwhites. I bought the same variety as last year but these are half the size in height; wonder why?
Could it be that last winter they sat on the table in the living room where it is warm and this year they set in my cool kitchen window?  They were fuller last year also although there are the same number of bulbs and I planted and arranged the bulbs the same way. Before planting, the bulbs appeared to be about the same size as last year. Their home for now is the dining room table. Lets see if the warmth of the house changes their appearance? So far only one has bloomed.

                                                                        Weekend Reading

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Begonia and Pansy Progress

Almost balmy in Philadelphia, 22 degrees today and sunny. I thought I saw, barely visible begonia seedlings yesterday but wasn't sure. Today I got a flashlight to inspect them. I saw correctly. They have germinated! Would you like to see them? That's not possible. You wouldn't be able to see them if I took a picture with my camera. Probably if I had a "good camera" with a zoom lens and properties for close up photos. Tiny, tiny, tiny. Last Winter my vinca seedlings were the smallest germinated seeds I had seen. This year I have a different variety and they aren't small at all. The begonias are clearly the smallest I have ever seen and really require high light or a magnifying glass to see them. A review of online information indicate begonias take a long time to get to planting out size. I would be upset to have to buy them in the Spring because mine aren't ready. An online image search of begonia seedlings was very helpful to give me an idea of how seedlings may look. This encouraged me go back and inspect them. They are as tiny as they looked in an image on line. Someone had a good camera to take the picture. It will be interesting to watch their progress.

There was almost a catastrophe last night with  the vinca. The cover was removed when I put them in the light except for some pieces I cut to keep seeds that had not yet germinated in the dark. I put the trays under shop lights and it baked them. I was horrified when I went down stairs to peak at them. It's hard to resist peaking at seedlings frequently throughout the day. Some that were plum had dried up from the heat of the light. I thought this can't possibly be damping of with coir pellets. I took them from under the shop lights to give them time to recover. I never thought I had to slowly introduce them to light. I don't remember having to do this last year. A lesson learned.

The pansies are strong and since many are developing a set of true leaves, I may transplant them over the weekend. I ordered pots a couple of months ago instead of starting with styrofoam cups. I have 100 square cups. When these run out, I will use cups. All of the seeds didn't germinate but many did. After I transplant the seedlings that did germinate the others are going to be put back in the dark to see what happens. I try not to get stressed if all seeds planted don't germinate because I have learned that just because a seed germinates does not mean it is healthy. Some seedling can be misshapen and unhealthy looking. Letting them continue to grow won't produce a healthy seedling. Maybe some seeds that don't just aren't healthy.
Pansy Seedlings. Many on the right side did not germinate. They are different from those on the right.
Sorry it's not clear.
Begonia seedlings. See if you can locate them? They are there, tiny green spots.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Vinca Germinated and Seedling Progress

Yesterday when I came home from work I checked my seed trays. The vinca had germinated in both trays. I kept them covered and in the dark to see if the rest would germinate by today. There are still cells is each tray that have not. I covered those to see if they will. I don't remember last years seeds germinating in 2 days. It's fun to watch seedlings grow and change every day. Still waiting on the begonias. I think I see something happening but I'm not sure. I read that they like to grow crowded. Probably should have read this first because I have one in each pot.

Not Winter without primrose. They smell so good. I smelled blooms of red, blue, and pink. The yellows were the only ones that were scented. I love scented flowers.